Czech Docs on Public Service TV
In the long term, Czech Television is among the largest Czech producers and co-producers of documentary films. As a public service medium, it provides more space to documentary content than commercial TVs. A more thorough analysis of the programme composition suggests that what most often qualifies as a documentary on Czech TV are premieres and repeats of episodes from the series, Stories of the Famous, On the Road, Travelmania and Portraits and their current or older variations. Less frequently, the TV screen features docusoaps, docudramas or various reality TV formats that are becoming increasingly more popular abroad and are more often adopted for Czech TV, like for instance Four in a Family Way or the controversial Golden Youth.
In the first half of the year, Czech Television showed on average 260 docs per month including single documentaries, distribution titles, documentary series, docusoaps and other new formats. It also presented about 53 premieres, too few considering that the broadcaster operates a total of six channels. We cannot but hope that in the upcoming six months, the number of documentary premieres will grow, especially those of feature documentary titles.
In the period concerned, CT included several audience favourites and thematically diverse feature films. 2016 kicked off with Film Adventurer Karel Zeman premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and successfully released in cinemas. Not only football fans will enjoy the film The Eternal Slavia depicting the individual periods in the history of the Slavia football team. Good Evening Anytime takes a look at the history of the most popular children show Večerníček (Bedtime Stories) and Refugees comments on the migration crisis in Europe.
Of all documentary formats, documentary series had the highest number of premieres (and repeats) accounting for nearly three quarters of the entire documentary content in the programme scheme. Single documentary titles – i.e. creative documentaries – represent a bit more than a twentieth of the production, with the remaining 4.5 % attributed to docusoaps and docu-reality TV shows.
Czech Television’s current programme scheme can be divided into three thematic areas that frame the programming and take on newer or older forms – feature films and whole series about prominent figures (living or deceased), travelogues and historical documentaries (mostly about WWII and the socialist regime).